Beshear vetoes bill subjecting Kentucky’s top education official to Senate confirmation
Editor’s note: This story was updated with a statement from the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 107, Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green.
Gov. Andy Beshear has vetoed a bill subjecting Kentucky’s top education official to Senate confirmation.
Senate Bill 107 would require Senate confirmation of the Kentucky Board of Education’s pick for education commissioner.
In his veto statement, the Democratic governor wrote the proposed process “politicizes” the hiring of the commissioner and “adds an unnecessary bureaucratic obstacle to hiring and keeping the Commissioner.”
“The Commissioner of Education must by law have the professional qualifications the Kentucky Board of Education decides are appropriate for the office, and the Board selects the Commissioner after going through a national search for candidates for the office,” Beshear wrote.
The bill, which received overwhelming support from Republican lawmakers in both the Senate and House, would limit the education commissioner’s contracts to four years but could be renewed.
Primary sponsor of the bill, Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, has said the process in the bill is similar to that of the hiring process for the commissioner of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, but Beshear refuted that in his veto message.
Lu Young, chair of the Kentucky Board of Education, previously told media outlets she worried the bill “would reverse the progress we have made during the past three decades and return the state to a time when the leadership of Kentucky’s public schools was determined by political capital and connections, not professional experience.”
Appointments to the Board of Education are made by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.
Here’s the governor’s full veto message:
“Senate Bill 107 politicizes the process for hiring the Commissioner of Education, and adds an unnecessary bureaucratic obstacle to hiring and keeping the Commissioner. The Commissioner of Education must by law have the professional qualifications the Kentucky Board of Education decides are appropriate for the office, and the Board selects the Commissioner after going through a national search for candidates for the office. Requiring Senate confirmation — which, contrary to committee testimony, is not required for the Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources — will undermine the Board of Education’s decision that is based on a thorough process, and will keep good candidates from wanting to seek the office because politics could stop them from carrying out the office after the Board has hired them.
“For these reasons, I am vetoing Senate Bill 107.”
Lawmakers return to Frankfort next week, where they may override Beshear’s vetoes.
Wilson criticized Beshear’s veto of the bill Friday afternoon:
“The Governor would like to keep as much control as possible over the Kentucky Department of Education to continue indoctrinating students and causing gender confusion rather than caring for their ability to read, write, and learn arithmetic. Given the Governor’s and current commissioner’s abysmal failure regarding Kentucky students’ learning outcomes, we must ensure legislative oversight and confirmation of the next education commissioner.
“We must not forget that only hours after Beshear’s inauguration, he dramatically politicized the Kentucky Department of Education by completely dissolving the Kentucky Board of Education, appointing Democrats to all 11 voting-member positions, and immediately paving the way for removing the state’s education chief with no just cause, then hiring a new one.
“Section 93 of the Constitution of Kentucky grants the Kentucky Senate authority to confirm a state officer. I look forward to adding Senate Bill 107 to the long list of bills vetoed by the Governor and overridden by the Kentucky General Assembly, and establishing necessary checks and balances for the selection of the Commonwealth’s Education Commissioner.”